Hill Hearing calls out Feds with poor Sexual Harassment Record
FAA commended for Good Policies
Some history behind this
An institution with a long history of single gender employment is particularly susceptible to problems transitioning to an environment with increasing female enrollment and leadership. Aviation was heavily masculine until the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 1960s began to review their hiring practices. So, too, with the FAA, which found most of their recruits for air traffic controllers and flight standards from the military, which had a long history of being an all-male work force.
The publicity surrounding Mr. Weinstein and a raft of others who objectified women in their business dealings has created a well-deserved firestorm. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called a hearing to examine the “extent of sexual misconduct in the federal government”. The focus of the session was the existence, or sadly the lack thereof, of “a table of penalties”, which is a list of “suggested disciplinary actions for various forms of staff misconduct. The Chairman found fault with seven specific agencies/departments, starting with the federal “super HR” organization, Office of Personnel Management.”
At the other end of the scale was the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has “the most developed list of sexual misconduct categories.” The FAA list has “10 distinct categories of sexual misconduct,” said the House report, including:
- “Sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, questions;
- “Suggestive looks or gestures of a sexual nature; and
- “Threat or act of reprisal for refusal to provide sexual favors.
While this positive recognition for standards and processes does not equate to a finding of no problems at the FAA, it raises the question of how an historically male organization has transitioned to a more balanced approach.
First, it is important to note that in 1984, Secretary Dole impressed upon Administrator Engen the goal of promoting women within leadership positions. A very talented leader of organizational Development, Larry Covington, designed an effective strategy to promote qualified women into jobs which impacted the FAA culture. Exceptionally talented women, like Peggy Gilligan, Kate Lang, Lynne Osmus, Pat McNall, Amy Corbett, Ruth Leverenz, Joan Bauerlein, Carol Blum, Arlene Feldman, Louise Maillett, Beth Yost, Dorenda Baker, Fanny Riveria, Loretta Alkalay, Woody Woodward, Ann Haarlan, among others, have contributed to a positive culture.
Administrators Jane Garvey and Marion Blakey plus Deputies like Barbara McConnell Barrett and Linda Hall Daschle led through their examples creating role models. Plus, there is no doubt that these four executive leaders would not tolerate any violation of these principles.
Second, in 1997 Chairman Duncan held a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on sexual harassment and Administrator Garvey made it clear that addressing this problem was a personal priority. Contemporaneously, the Office of Inspector General issued a report on these complaints.
Having heard from Congress, the FAA took several significant steps to assure that the workforce did not fear sexual harassment:
- in 2000, Administrator Garvey issued an order, Order 1110.125A, Accountability Board, which upgraded that internal organization to deal with allegations or incidents of verbal, written, graphic, or physical harassment and other misconduct that creates or that may reasonably be expected to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or disability. Her action also set improved procedures for reporting, investigating, and processing such allegations.
- Her office was also responsible for issuing Human Resources Policy Manual (HRPM) Volume 4: Employee Relations, a very detailed statement of responsibilities for employees and managers.
- What is the Accountability Board? is an active website which keeps employees aware of standards, the process and the timeframe for reporting. It is updated frequently (most recently 3/21/17).
- Every new employee must read Required Reading Material, which includes a library of materials on this subject.
Finally, Administrator Huerta recently issued a new policy statement
The Federal Aviation Administration is committed to being a model Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) employer. Harassment, including unwelcome verbal or physical touching based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), genetic information, age (40 or over), disability, sexual orientation or reprisal for participating in protected EEO activity will not be tolerated.
Harassment becomes unlawful, where 1) enduring the conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. Harassment includes, but is not limited to: labels, epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping, threatening, intimidating or hostile acts, verbal or written jokes, or other written or graphic materials (including electronic media) displayed or circulated in the workplace that degrades a person or group.
Sexual harassment is also unlawful. Sexual harassment involves offensive remarks about a person’s sex, unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. I expect FAA employees to monitor their conduct in the workplace and to act in conformance with the law and Agency policy. I also expect employees to report, without fear of retaliation, any harassment they experience or may witness, to the Administrator’s Hotline, the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Security and Hazardous Materials, or the FAA Accountability Board. In addition, executives and managers who become aware of harassing conduct must take immediate and appropriate action to stop the conduct and to prevent it from recurring. Any employee who has engaged in unlawful harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, under the Agency’s Conduct and Discipline policy.
Please do your part to prevent and eliminate discrimination and harassment in the FAA. Communicate this policy to others and demonstrate your support by modeling professional behavior in the workplace. For additional information, please contact your local Civil Rights Office or visit: https://employees.faa.gov/org/staffoffices/acr/
The real proof, however, is what happens every day in ARTCCs, FDSOs, ACOs, Regions, ADOs, Headquarters and every other facility.
Share this article: